Viewtiful Joe, Volume 1 (UMD)

Chimaera

Clearly no couple could be more mismatched than Joe and Silvia. She likes chick flicks and Joe’s obsessed with a cartoon figure called “Captain Blue”. Joe drools over the latest rare collectible figurine, Silvia thinks he should collect something better – like jewelry (this girl is subtle like a pile of ACME bricks). In fact I’m not even sure why they’re dating – they are that mismatched. However, putting this great mystery of implausibility aside, we follow our happy couple into an otherwise abandoned theater where Joe gleefully indulges in a Captain Blue flick and Silvia tolerates the action with little interest. No one apparently warned Joe how the movie was going to turn out as Captain Blue finds himself being defeated and Silvia gets kidnapped into the world of movies by an agent of the evil Jadow organization. Silvia is so annoying during the opening of the episode I’m wondering why Joe doesn’t just leave her there, but clearly they’re devoted to each other because he finds a way to enter this alternate universe.

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One Joe arrives in Movieland, Captain Blue passes the torch of fighting for Justice, Goodness, and other cool things to Joe in order to assist his efforts in rescuing Silvia. With a V-watch that turns Joe into a superhero with a mere “Henshin A-Go-Go-Baby!”, Joe gets a chance to draw upon an extensive mental bank of Captain Blue references in order to figure out his new powers and capacities. Joe isn’t bright and this much is clear, but he does know his Captain Blue trivia inside and out. The V-watch is a particularly troubling device, especially since Joe spends the first two episodes looking for an appropriate superhero name. (Why is it a V-watch? Who knows, but nice job on the foreshadowing Joe’s eventual super-name, Captain Blue!)

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As for the Jadow, the organization is comprised of a typical group of bad-guy misfits – Charles the Third, an arrogant creature with frilly collars and most resembling a bat; Hulk Davidson, the green creature that appears to be a cross between a rhino and the Hulk, and just as dense; man-shark Gran Bruce, the Australian-accented creature; and Sprocket, the obligatory babe whose primary task at present is to assist some unknown figure by coordinating this circus of ineptitude. Helping the Jadow out are the Biankies, a pile of quirky robotic grunts that are easily taken out of the action when they show up. Think of the Biankies as warm up material for Joe because at this stage of his quest to free Silvia, Joe needs all the practice he can get.

It takes until the third episode for Joe to decide on a superhero name after an encounter with the Jadow agent Alastor. There isn’t much that can be shared about Alastor that probably wouldn’t be a spoiler of sorts (the show really is that simple), so if you’re interested in how and why it took three episodes for Joe to pick up the moniker “Viewtiful”, then check it out. As for Silvia? What, did you think after three episodes the super-noob hero was going to get the girl? Dream on, dudes!

Despite being in the credits, Captain Blue Jr. does not appear in the volume, and I’m not sure this is such a huge loss from the small clips in the TV spots.

Technical/Extras: 4
Strangely enough, Charles the Third reminds me ever-so-slightly of Pinky (Pinky and the Brain), although clearly they aren’t voiced by the same person. Unfortunately he’s not half as intelligent as Pinky was. This says a lot about both of those characters. The closing song on the episodes makes no sense, which puts it in league with 80% the anime I’ve seen to date, but the introduction theme song seems to fit along with the spirit of the series and that’s a plus.

With no clear way to choose episodes or chapters, Viewtiful Joe loses any traction it may have gained on the technical side by being annoying to navigate. Not even a “Navigation A-Go-Go, Baby!” can resolve this heinous oversight. Bad UMD, no cookie!

Entertainment: 6.5
This series is so dumb it reaches a level of being positively sublime. If you’ve had a long week and you have a need for cheap laughs, turning your brain way down and some “hardcore chillaxin”, then Joe’s your man. Do kids actually talk like this? No kid I know talks like this, but whatever. This one is definitely recommended for the younger crowd regardless and for people who haven’t slept well in at least a week.

Overall: 6.5

This is kids stuff, but it is funny kid stuff. You don’t want to think too hard about this anime, in fact it is a lot more enjoyable if you just sit back, laugh out loud, eat some popcorn and enjoy the paper-thin, slow moving plot for a while. Viewtiful Joe is something you’d probably hand off to a younger sibling as you are picking up something just a bit cooler for yourself to get them out of the way for an hour.

Episodes:
1. Just a Dude Named Joe
2. What’s-his-name to the Rescue!
3. Dude, Did You Say “Viewtiful”?

Extras: TV Spots

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